AAVSO: American Association of Variable Star Observers

Proposal #203

Proposer (43854) Dana Tumal (dtumal@gmail.com) obscode: TDAB
Assigned To(3663) Dirk Terrell
Date SubmittedMarch 8, 2021

For my senior capstone project, I am working on observing various variable star targets and plotting their lightcurves using multiple programs such as Lightkurve, SExtractor, and Python in order to mathematically verify their known periods. I am observing and imaging well-known and studied variable stars from the types that can are visible from the northern and southern hemispheres. I started my project out by observing stars at the University of Maine’s campus telescope at the Maynard F. Jordan Observatory but with the combination of poor weather conditions last fall and various other issues caused by COVID-19, I was unable to sufficient data. I am now working remotely from Massachusetts and have limited access to the observatory through graduate students who are in the Orono, ME area. In addition to having to move home, the Astronomy department has decided that it is due time to update the computer system for the observatory and it is therefore in maintenance mode for the next few weeks. I have also been using the robotic telescope service SLOOH to obtain more observational data. While SLOOH is a great service, their available telescopes do not have the specifications I need for my project; they do not use UBVRI filters on most of their telescopes and it is difficult to get enough observations in on a given night with the number of people using the website. They use Bayer LRGB filters on the majority of their telescopes, and have just recently launched a Johnson BVR option for membership holders on the Chile Two telescope; however, the Chile Two telescope is widely popular among SLOOH members and there are rarely open slots available to schedule missions. There are also often periods of time in which the Chile telescope is unusable, possibly due to faulty machine operation, but little information is given to members when this happens. With all the obstacles I’ve run into thus far, I would like to supplement the data I get from the University of Maine graduate students with another remote observatory such as the BSM New Mexico station that has different weather conditions than the east coast and is likely more readily available.
I understand that the use of the BSM is primarily to supplement variable star data on stars that are not yet well-studied. While my star targets are primarily well observed and well studied, the major goal of my project is not to gather new data or supplement already existing data. Rather, my goal is to learn the ropes of stellar observation and astronomical image processing so that I can develop these skills for the near future when I am searching for a career in observational astronomy. With that being said, the majority of the targets I have chosen have sufficient data taken but are still scientifically useful to me to observe. My final list of variable targets includes 6 variables with known periods.
I am also going to be completing observations of Landolt standard fields. I will be using these fields to calculate extinction coefficients and air masses of my variable observations so as to account for any atmospheric interference and uncertainties in magnitude in my images. I currently have 4 Landolt fields that are visible from the northern and southern hemispheres. This brings my total target list, variables and standards, up to 10. I am including my entire list of targets, both variables and standards, though a couple are only visible from Chile (southern hemisphere). The standards will have "0" listed for minimum and maximum magnitudes as they are not variables and their magnitudes are not as important for the initial observations!
I have checked my list of targets numerous times against the BSM Northern Hemisphere target list and the VSX and Simbad databases for their periods and magnitude ranges. I used the program Stellarium set to Roswell NM to check targets for the BSM NM telescope outside of Las Cruces to ensure that they would be visible around the time I would need to observe them. The targets I have are located at a wide range of hour angles so that I could have targets with different levels of atmospheric interference. I have also checked with SLOOH’s missions scheduling forms to ensure that the stars are also visible from Chile. I made sure to choose targets that would have a relatively large period, but not so large that it would take months to observe them, and that their minimum magnitudes were not too dim--I tried to stay within the range of 5-8 magnitudes with some exceptions.
Ideally, I would like to observe on a nightly basis, if not then every other night. That way I can supplement my data-gathering sufficiently and complete my project in time. With the number of issues I have run into using our campus’s telescope and the SLOOH’s available telescopes, the use of the BSM New Mexico telescope would mean the difference between little to no usable data and sufficient usable data. I appreciate you taking the time to read through my proposal and I hope that it checks the boxes necessary to be granted access to the BSM telescope system! I look forward to hearing from you!

Target RA (H.HH) Dec (D.DD) Magnitude Telescope Observation Frequency Expiration Date Proprietary Term
W Gem 6.582625 15.33047 7.39–6.54 BSM_NH2 Sept. 13, 2021 6 Months


(43854) Dana Tumal — March 8, 2021, 7:06 p.m.

Dirk- I had added a complete list of my targets and they are now not appearing. Only my first target is showing up. I am going to be adding them below for your review:

W Gem 06 34 57.45 +15 19 49.7 6.54-7.39
WW Aur 06 32 27.18 +32 27 17.6 5.79-6.54
T Mon 06 25 13.0 +07 05 08 5.58-6.62
NZ Gem 07 42 3.22 +14 12 30.7 5.52-5.72
ST Tau 05 45 3.16 +13 34 34.9 7.79-8.02
R Mus 12 42 5.00 -69 24 27.2 5.93-6.73

GD 64 04 57 22.5 +41 55 56.5
SA 26-219 06 42 23.1 +44 47 54.4
GD 421 01 51 10.3 +67 39 32.25
GD 153 12 57 2.33 +22 01 52.66

(3663) Dirk Terrell — March 9, 2021, 3:24 p.m.

Ok, the TAC is now considering your proposal.

(43854) Dana Tumal — March 15, 2021, 5:45 p.m.

Hi Dirk! I was wondering what my next steps are now that my proposal has been accepted; I read that the telescopes are robotically operated, so that means that the images are set and taken automatically? I didn't know how to get my images as I did not specify for them to go to VPhot automatically, but I am not able to log into the other link given on the BSM page (it asks me to enter in my username and password for the server, but my username and password for my AAVSO membership account did not work). How can I get my images? Is there a volunteer I should be working with closely to get my photos taken the way I need them for my project? Thanks for all your help!!

(3663) Dirk Terrell — March 15, 2021, 9:19 p.m.

Once Ken Menzies allocates your project to the system, he can help with the observing details and image downloads.

(4726) Kenneth Menzies — March 17, 2021, 4:54 p.m.


Pardon, which is the reason for your images - your capstone project or to learn future job skills. proposal is ambiguous about available data?

Once the plan is committed and images are taken, you will get a "you have data" email when images are in your vphot account.


(4726) Kenneth Menzies — March 17, 2021, 5:09 p.m.


Are you a member? What is your observer code? I did not see this above and could not find you on the member profile page.

What filters do you want used?

What is the time frame of your capstone project?


(4726) Kenneth Menzies — March 17, 2021, 6:01 p.m.

Committed to NH, NM, TX, Berry.


Comments on this proposal are closed.